I think it started as early as three years old.
We were barely home a week from the hospital after our middle child was born when our oldest -then three years old- showed us that she could in fact read. Not just a word here or there. She could READ. We always read to her, even when she was still in the crib. Plus, we got in on the whole Baby Einstein thing pretty early…way before Disney bought the company up and sucked the soul out of it like a mouse-eared succubus. So the reading thing shouldn’t have been a huge surprise to us. Yet, it still felt like some parlour trick. This was the earliest point at which it felt like she didn’t need her old dad. Sad and pathetic, I know. She was only three for Christ’s sake. Yet, it felt like something more monumental. It felt like a preview of how amazing she was going to be. It turned out to be true.
She excelled in school. In kindergarten she doubled as a student AND teacher’s aid, helping the other kids that needed it. Reading and math were her favorite subjects. But reading. She could breeze through a series in an afternoon. Captain Underpants, Magic Treehouse, Judy Moody,…then Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. She breezed through so many series of books over the years I’ve lost count. She devours them. Then in the second grade she tested for the gifted and talented program in our school system. She was accepted easily. It was the best thing for her, as regular classes would’ve left her bored and unchallenged. This program allowed her to open up, as she was pretty shy as a little kid(there was her third birthday where she hid her face in my chest as we sang “Happy Birthday” to her…or when a nice old lady came up to her in the store and told her what pretty red hair she had and my little girl screamed.) So getting in a class with a bunch of other like-minded brainiacs helped her interact with other kids and learn not to scream at the top of her lungs when she was complimented.
Since she’s gotten into middle school she has continued to grow as a student and an individual. She amazes me at the things she does. Band, Drama, Student Council, Yearbook,….she’s not afraid to try something new. She’s so not like me in that respect. I was a hermit at her age, hiding in my bedroom, listening to Dokken and practicing my guitar. We recently watched her in the school’s spring play, “Alex in Cyberland”. She played Alex’s mom, and I do believe there was some method acting going on in some of those stern lines she delivered. We also saw her last week in the final spring band concert. I’m a proud papa, for sure.
So a lot of the time I get the feeling that she just doesn’t need me. I can’t help her in her studies, unless it’s a history question. She can butter her own pancakes, and can do her own hair(most of the time). And she can certainly make decisions regarding right and wrong. So I guess my job now is to just stand by and await further instructions. As long as she knows her dad loves her and trusts her, and that I’m here for whatever she may need, then that’s all I can do. Countless books, Baby Eintstein, and many viewings of The Simpsons and Futurama in those important years of being a little kid have helped shape her into the brilliant, funny, and (most of the time) sweet teenager she is as of today.
Happy 13th Birthday Claire. I’ll be here whenever you need me.